Embattled South Korean president sees approval rating fall to 17 pct

Updated: 2016-10-28 17:24


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Embattled South Korean president sees approval rating fall to 17 pct

South Korean President Park Geun-hye releases a statement of apology to the public during a news conference at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, October 25, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

SEOUL - South Korean President Park Geun-hye, embattled by a scandal surrounding her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, saw her approval rating fall to the lowest since her inauguration in February 2013, a local pollster survey showed on Friday.

The public support rate for Park was 17 percent this week, down 8 percentage points from the previous week, according to Gallup Korea. It was based on a poll of 1,009 adults conducted between Tuesday and Thursday.

The figure was the lowest since Park took power about three and a half years ago, lower than another pollster Realmeter's survey result of 21.2 percent announced on Thursday.

The continued fall in Park's approval rating came as the country's first female president is suspected of letting her longtime friend, who has no official title in public office, intervene in state affairs.

Citing a former coworker of Choi, a domestic newspaper Hankyoreh reported that Choi meddled in government affairs, including Seoul's decision to shut down the inter-Korean industrial complex in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

South Korea closed down the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the last-remaining symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation, following Pyongyang's fourth nuclear device test in January and the launch in February of a long-range rocket.

According to local media reports, Choi meddled in the appointment of ministers and the editing of presidential speeches, indicating her extensive interference with national affairs.

Outraged supporters of Park, especially those in their 60s or older living in the country's southeastern regions, turned their backs severely even after Park made an unusual public apology on Tuesday to admit Choi's involvement in the editing of her speeches only during an initial period of her presidency.

According to the Gallup Korea survey, 80 percent of respondents believed that Choi's intervention in state affairs would be true, with only 6 percent saying it would not be true.

Approval rating for the ruling Saenuri Party declined 3 percentage points to 26 percent compared with the previous week, falling below the main opposition Minjoo Party's rating of 29 percent.

Some of Saenuri Party members demanded President Park drop her party affiliation.